There are many personal traits and qualities that we say are important for someone if they want to be successful (whatever that means to you). Some are kindness, assertiveness, determination and decisiveness. However, in my humble experience, few are more important than self-discipline.
Being disciplined basically means that you are in control of what you do, what you can get done and what you would never devote your time and efforts to. Oftentimes, being able to show discipline is the difference between succeeding and failing, because “success” often means showing up even when you don’t really feel like it. And, if you ask me, this is most likely the reason behind 90% of the times we fail: we start off big, make a plan that probably has a few pieces in it that we don’t like, we get down to work but then time tricks us into quitting because those tiny pieces have become intolerable and one day we just tell ourselves well, I don’t think I wanted it that badly anyway.
Not showing enough discipline to show up constantly & consistently over time is often what burns us in the end. But, believe it or not, self-discipline really can be developed over time with as much as a simple act of commitment. I promise. The only trick here is that in order to improve your discipline you need to constantly show, well… discipline. And the efforts you put in every day will literally mean success.
If you’ve set your eye on becoming your most committed self yet, you need to fist come to terms with the fact that discipline and excuses are not friends. You need to set boundaries and mentally prepare yourself for showing up for however long it will take to get what you want. By the way, this is wonderful practice for virtually anything else in your life that requires consistency and patience. Remember why you started, take notes along the way because passion is a fire that often unexpectedly goes out so, you can’t put your hopes into it alone. And don’t feel like you have to do it all today: be gentle to yourself and take it one step at a time.
Here are some really basic ways to train your discipline muscle every day. Feel free to add on more complex tasks as you go along and get stronger!
- Take advantage of small every day tasks. Don’t underestimate the power of small chores: make it a point to make your bed every morning, wash dishes after dinner instead of piling them up in the sink, take your dog out for a walk even though it’s rainy. Every small effort counts and when you learn to anticipate your own unwillingness to do something you will learn how to control it, too.
- Journal. Whether it’s writing down your thoughts at the end of a long day or just doing a regular book-keeping on your finances, keeping a journal is very good training for your discipline because you really have to show up every day to make it count. Even if all you write is just one sentence, this makes all the difference in teaching your brain that remaining on track feels good.
- Make a long-term plan. Have a goal you’ve set recently? Make a long-term plan for it and come back to it often to do upgrades and reality checks. Planning can strengthen both your patience and imagination: plan and actually see yourself going in the direction you want to go; imagine the little steps you make along the way. This is how dreams become reality in the end